‘No one is allowed to defy the Supreme Court’
Anurag Thakur was not only removed as BCCI president by a Supreme Court order on Monday, but he is also facing two showcause notices relating to charges of contempt of court and perjury. The court was severe on Thakur for having “obstructed and impeded” the implementation of the Lodha Committee recommendations approved by the court on July 18, 2016.
From being one of the most powerful people in cricket as head of the BCCI, Thakur, 41, had his authority stripped off him, and his role with the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association, where he has been president since 2000-01, is also uncertain because of the limitations on tenure imposed by the Lodha Committee.
“Mr Thakur has by his actions and conduct rendered himself unfit for continuance as President of BCCI, for the following reasons,” the Supreme Court observed in its order on January 2. “Firstly, he has obstructed and impeded the implementation of the directions contained in the judgment and order of this Court dated 18 July 2016.
“His own version is that he has been ‘rendered totally incapable and without any authority’ to compel the members to comply with the orders of this Court. This is indicative of his having washed his hands off a duty and obligation to ensure compliance.”
Despite reminders from the Lodha Committee and directives from the court that it was binding upon the BCCI and state associations to implement the recommendations unconditionally, the board resisted them. Thakur, in an affidavit filed on December 3, said he could not force the state associations to adopt the recommendations.
The court did not buy that argument. “We are prima facie of the view that Mr Thakur is liable to be proceeded with for contempt of court for having obstructed and impeded the orders of this Court.”
The court, however, reserved its harshest words for Thakur on the issue relating to his asking the ICC chairman Shashank Manohar for a letter stating whether the appointment of an official from the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office on the Apex Council would amount to governmental interference. The ICC does not permit government interference in the functioning of its member boards. The court took exception to the fact that Thakur had tried to scuttle one of the recommendations after it had been approved by the court.
In a previous hearing on December 15, the court had said there was enough evidence to lay a charge of perjury against Thakur.
According to the court, Thakur had tried to “solicit” such a letter from Manohar during the ICC Governance Review Committee meeting held in Dubai on August 6 and 7, 2016. Thakur, the court said, was attempting to “thwart” the implementation of the recommendations. “An attempt was made to build up a record to indicate that implementing the orders of the Supreme Court of India would run the risk of endangering the status of BCCI as a member of ICC.”
In an affidavit last December, Thakur had told the court he had asked Manohar, who was BCCI president between October 2015 and May 2016, if he thought having a CAG official on the Apex Council could “invoke an action of suspension” from the ICC. Thakur said he asked Manohar during the Dubai meeting whether he could issue a letter of clarification.
The court asked the Lodha Committee to seek clarification from Manohar too. The ICC chairman told the committee in an email on November 2 that he had declined to offer Thakur any letter.
“The conduct of the President of BCCI in seeking a letter from the President of ICC in August 2016, after the final judgment and Order of this Court, is nothing but an attempt on the part of the head of BCCI to evade complying, with the Order of this Court,” the order read. “We are constrained to note that there was absolutely no occasion for the President of BCCI to solicit any such clarification from the Chairperson of ICC in the teeth of the judgment that was delivered by this Court.”
According to the court, it had “adequate” reasons to doubt the veracity of the sequence of events narrated by Thakur. To emphasise its point, the court highlighted the affidavit signed by Ratnakar Shetty, BCCI’s administration and game development manager, and presented to the court on October 7, 2016, in response to a status report of the Lodha Committee.
Shetty’s affidavit had stated that Thakur never sought a letter from the ICC. But during a subsequent hearing, the BCCI submitted in court minutes of a working committee meeting held on August 22, which noted that Manohar had been asked for a letter.
The court took a serious view of this variance. “Prima facie it would appear that these minutes had not seen the light of the day when the response by Mr Shetty to the status report of the Committee was filed, and have been fabricated subsequently to lend credence to the version of Mr Thakur. The statement that Mr Manohar was requested to clarify the position which he had taken as BCCI President is falsified by Mr Manohar’s disclosure that he was asked to give a letter in his capacity as ICC Chairman.”
Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo